Jenna Talackova, Miss Universe Canada

In North Carolina, she must use the men's locker room or go to jail.  But is she really a threat to other women?

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1st Lady

Does she look like someone who should be stopped?  If you do, you'll discover she never had chromosomal analysis.  If the encounter occurred in Georgia today, she'd go to jail.

In America, almost half of the state legislatures are considering potty laws -- laws that make it a criminal act for a transsexual to enter a restroom.   In Kansas, the proposed fine will be $2,500.   Schools, colleges and businesses that don't police their restrooms will be fined or lose all state funding.  The South Dakota legislature passed such a bill, but it was vetoed by Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard.  He explained  that he agreed with the concept of transgender exclusion, but he thought policies should be  determined by local school boards and business owners.  (The governor admitted he had never knowingly met a transgender person before.)

"I'm sorry if you're so twisted you don't know who you are.  I'm telling you right now, it's about protecting the kids, and I don't even understand where our society is these days."

          -- South Dakota Republican Sen. David Omdahl."

Recently the Charlotte NC City Council passed an ordinance that allowed access to restrooms.  The panicked state legislature is in the process of calling an emergency session (at $42,000 per day) "to repeal all or part of new legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals."

One North Carolina school district recommended that students carry pepper spray, in case they encountered a trans student in a restroom.

In 2005, Maine passed a non-discrimination act that included sexual orientation and gender identity.  The state Department of Education scheduled a town hall to determine how the act would be implemented in public schools.  The meeting was mobbed by angry protesters, who forced the school officials to shelve any policy changes.   Inevitably the grandfather of one of the students heard that a fifth-grade transsexual girl was being allowed to enter the girl's restroom.  His protest triggered the local school district to establish a potty ban for all transsexuals.  In January, 2014, the Maine Supreme Court ruled that youth must be allowed to use the appropriate restroom for their gender

...And so it goes, in state after state.  Utah's so-called "LGBT Non-discrimination Act" (2015) specifically excludes trans people from using public restrooms in order to preserve "religious freedom".  A similar ploy was successfully used by the Indiana legislature in 2015 -- with various other states trying to follow suit.

Sexual Obsession 

A Test

Imagine that your pastor assigns you to police the women's restroom in some large public building -- say, a library or a busy airport. It's your job to enforce the state's potty law.  Imagine that the following people walk through the door:  For which individuals would you demand to inspect their genitals?

NOTE:  The intent here is to show the absurdity of potty laws -- not to infer anything about the pictured individual's appearance,  morality, conformity, medical status, gender identity, or anything else about the actual people.

Potty Laws

Potty Law supporters are convinced that a 6-year old trans girl poses a threat to other 6-year olds' morality, privacy, and safety.  How can they reach such an astonishing conclusion?   They operate on two basic assumptions:

(1)  STRICT GENDER SEPARATION:  A male and a female can't be in the same room, regardless of age or circumstances.  The presence of even a 6-year old biologic female will  drive a 6-year old biologic male into an uncontrollable sexual frenzy.   Likewise, a male presence exerts an almost mystical assault on a female's virginity -- violating her privacy, modesty, and morality.  ...Even if the two people can't see each other or are unaware of each other's genital appearance.

Remember that extremist religions separate males & females during worship.  Their women are forced to wear clothes & scarves that remove every hint of femininity.  In many societies, men and women can't even ride on the same bus. 

DSM-5 labels such extreme obsessions as a "specific phobia" (Code  300.29).

(2)  FEMALE TRANSSEXUALS ARE "REALLY MEN"  A 6-year old trans girl may wear a dress, have long hair, hate boys and play only with girls -- ie, they look and behave just like the other girls.  But extremists are convinced that she's "Really a Man" because she was born with a penis.

This kind of "mystical man" exerts the same destructive aura as gender males.  In the interest of public order & safety, they supposedly must be marked for exclusion. 

"This will take the normal hormonal battles raging inside every teenager and pour gasoline onto those simmering coals.  The right to privacy enjoyed by every student will be replaced by the right to be ogled.  … My 13- and 16-year-old boys were horrified at the idea of sharing a bathroom and locker room with a member of the opposite sex, after having discussed [the law] with them."
          -- California Assemblyman Tom Donnelly (R)

LGB advocacy groups agree.

The reason this battle is still being fought in the 21st century is that most advocacy groups agree with the fundamentalists:  Supposedly trans women are "Really Men", and must be kept away from "normal women".  Thus, their solution to the potty threat is to install unisex restrooms.  A transgender person isn't allowed in a restroom designated for men or women.  They must find a unisex restroom somewhere else.

When advocacy groups address legislators & policy makers, they argue that every person has a fundamental right to choose their gender -- and society must respect that choice. 

Does a bearded man in a dress (see above) have a fundamental civil right to "identify as a woman" and enter a women's restroom?

A "right to choose" will never be a convincing argument.   Restroom / locker room  access will remain controversial until the general public understands that a transsexual woman is Really a Woman.

Child Abuse

The North Carolina potty law has two sections:  one applies to businesses and public buildings; the other applies specifically to schools.   Although it may be remotely plausible that an adult voyeur or pedophile might enter a restroom with nefarious intent, it's fantastic to imagine that the 6-year old girl shown above might pose any credible threat to other children's privacy, modesty or safety. 

At least potty enforcement in a public setting is based on some act or appearance raising suspicion ("probable cause").  Because school enrollment requires a birth certificate, the staff is fully aware of which students are transsexual.  They're also fully aware of that the child does not exhibit any potentially dangerous personality traits.  The sole purpose of such laws is to torment and harass trans students for being who they are.

Especially in school districts that restrict restroom access, parents out their child to the school upon enrollment.  Doing so places the child at risk.  The no-potty movement is a major reason for pre-school transitioning and refusing to disclose the child's medical history. 

A trans girl is Really a Girl.  She's just like any other girl.  She's not "abnormal".  She's not some kind of "third sex".  Brain structure determines a person's gender, not the size of their penis.

Potty Patrol

Without an admission of guilt, the tables can be turned:  Why would anyone want to become a potty monitor?  What kind of a person would spend hours in a public restroom, peeking through the cracks around the stall doors, carefully scrutinizing the occupants for hints of secret masculinity?  A monitor's demand for a genital inspection is the ultimate proof of evil intent.  


Potty laws restrict restroom access, but don't specify any procedure for identifying or screening suspects.  But the exercise above shows that enforcement attempts require two separate steps:

            First, a person entering a restroom must raise doubt in an accuser.

            Second, the suspect must be "gender tested" according to the criteria set forth by the law.

The first step in recognizing Wrong Restroom violations is the most important.  If a trans person doesn't arouse any suspicions, it doesn't matter what documentation or medical history they have or don't have.  In other words, the first step is a matter of passing: whether or not the suspect conforms to the gender stereotypes held by the accuser.  For example, if the accuser believes women have small noses, big breasts and an hourglass figure, then anyone with a big nose, small breasts, or narrow hips will be confronted for step two of the enforcement process.

At least one-third of biologic women don't conform to the usual gender stereotypes.  The "gender testing" of step two is humiliating and offensive.  When a woman is wrongly accused of being Really a Man because her accuser thinks she has a big nose or small breasts, lawyers are going to be involved. 

On the other hand, potty laws force intersexuals, androgynous people, and crossdressers to undergo unnecessary genital & facial surgery in order to improve their chances of passing the first screening.  As a result, wealthy trans people can ignore potty laws, while people who can't afford feminizing surgery are destined for prison.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A potty monitor's demand that a suspect expose herself can be construed as sexual assault.  Religious extremists are hoping that trans people will self-incriminate:

Potty monitor:  You're a man!  It's illegal for you to be in here!

Victim:  Yes, I'm transgender.  Please don't turn me in!

A free admission of guilt lets the potty monitor off the hook.  She doesn't have to explain or justify her confrontation.  She doesn't have to do a genital inspection.  All she has to do is call the police.  And it will be male police officers who do the inspection.

Why the Obsession about Restrooms? 

The New Gender Paradigm

Cartoon by Kevin Moore.

Robb Flynn, guitarist for the band Machine Head.

Presumably, this is the type of person legislators imagine they're protecting women & girls from.  Do you really think you'll see anyone who looks like this?

At left is a 6-year old who made national news when she failed genital inspection by the Fountain, Colorado, school district. 

The state has a non-discrimination law that allows trans people to use the appropriate restroom.  In spite of the law, a group of vocal parents complained that the little girl violated their children's privacy.

In the end, the family was forced to relocate to a more civilized locale.

In this case, who was the real threat to privacy, child safety, and morality -- the 6-year old or the school board?

Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel

Which restroom should she use?

A Man in the Women's Locker Room

In February 2016 a man challenged a recent Washington State law that allows transsexuals to use the appropriate restroom.  A Seattle man entered the women's locker room at a public swimming pool and proceeded to undress.  When challenged, he explained that the state's restroom law permitted men to enter women's restrooms and locker rooms.  He was shown the door, but returned a few hours later to repeat the the intrusion while young girls were changing for a swimming class.

The man didn't claim to be transgender, but no action was taken by the pool staff on either intrusion.   The police weren't called because the Parks & Recreation Department was "still working on the issue." 

The episode was used to justify the North Carolina Potty Law that was passed a month later.

Back in Washington State, the State Human Rights Commission called the man’s behavior “inexcusable and reprehensible.”

“Men cannot go into the women’s locker room, as this man claimed he had the right to do.  Only women, including transgender women, can go into the women’s locker room."

Potty Laws reflect a wide-spread misunderstanding about what it means to be transsexual or intersexual.  Education is the only approach that will ultimately resolve the potty law debate.  Unfortunately, advocacy groups make pleas for Civil Rights without bothering to educate legislators and the general population.

Svetla Dimitrova, Bulgarian Olympic athlete

Would you stop her?  If you do, it's false arrest.  She was born female, has an "F" on her birth certificate, and the $500 blood test would show XX chromosomes.

When you probe her underwear, you'd find female genitals.

A sexual predator is more likely to disguise himself as a Christian fundamentalist than as a transsexual. 

The best response for any victim of a restroom confrontation is to admit nothing, refuse inspection, and demand to see a lawyer. 

Why All The Outrage?

August 2013, California passed a law allowing all students equal access to restrooms, locker rooms and athletics consistent with their gender identity.  As usual, the law triggered interesting fantasies in a certain segment of the population: 

"This will take the normal hormonal battles raging inside every teenager and pour gasoline onto those simmering coals.  The right to privacy enjoyed by every student will be replaced by the right to be ogled.  … My 13- and 16-year-old boys were horrified at the idea of sharing a bathroom and locker room with a member of the opposite sex, after having discussed [the law] with them."
          -- California Assemblyman Tom Donnelly (R) .

Apparently such people consider a restroom visit to be the ultimate erotic encounter; the wet dream of every male.   It's the only reason extremists can think of that a man would "pretend to be a woman". 


Except, these laws don't actually deal with voyeurism.  They don't mandate locking privacy stalls in restrooms.  They don't punish breaking the locks on stall doors or drilling peep-holes.  It's okay for known sexual predators to loiter around women's restrooms.   ...Instead, the laws use a birth certificate or chromosomal analysis  as the standard for restroom access. 

Why don't the laws use CURRENT anatomy to dictate restroom assignment?   Why would a person's medical status decades ago be more important than their current status?   The only people affected by birth analysis are intersexuals and transsexuals.  Choosing a bizarre sex test forces biologic females into the men's room (that is, people with full breast development and female genitals).  And biologic males with beards, hairy chests and big muscles have to change clothes in the women's locker room.

All in the interest of privacy & modesty?    


Contrary to fundamentalist fears, there aren't that many transsexuals visiting restrooms.  Practically speaking, by far the most common person to be stopped and arrested for restroom violation will be an XX, "F"-on-the-birth-certificate,  vagina-owner who looks like a man.  It happens all the time, even before the invention of potty laws:

An androgynous woman enters the lady's room and is immediately accosted by a self-appointed member of the gender police:  "You don't belong in here!  Get out!"

Shocked & embarrassed, the woman objects, "But I'm a woman!"

Before the potty laws, the encounter would hopefully have a peaceful outcome -- maybe an "F" on a driver's license would answer the challenge.  But a potty law turns the matter into a criminal encounter.  The law deputizes that bathroom monitor and legitimizes their attack.  And a driver's license (or any other document) won't protect the victim from arrest:  In South Dakota and many other states only a chromosomal analysis will suffice.

          How many people have undergone chromosomal analysis?

Will the poor victim be held in the county jail pending the results of her lab test?  Who will pay for the test (that costs several hundred dollars)?  What happens if she turns out to be one of the many intersexuals who aren't aware of their true medical status?

For an  unexpected confrontation in a birth certificate state,   How many people carry their birth certificate everywhere they go?

Hmmm.   This would be the perfect way to ruin the day for someone you dislike.

Genital Inspection

It's inevitable that a woman in need might do anything to gain access to a toilet -- including submitting to a genital inspection.   Even if it's not stipulated by the law, dropping panties might placate the average Christian fundamentalist.  (Utah's potty law actually requires a “physical examination of the individual’s genitalia.” )  

...Of course, this is an unsupervised inspection by a total stranger -- a teacher, a security guard, the police, or maybe even the random restroom radical.   All in the name of "protecting privacy."

So let's see how that would work...